MANHATTAN, Kan. -- In its toughest road trip of the year, No. 6 Baylor held on Thursday night for a hard-fought 31-24 victory over Kansas State at Bill Snyder Family Stadium to remain undefeated and in the thick of the Big 12 title and playoff conversations.
Baylor safety Terrell Burt finally put the game away in the final minute with an interception along the sidelines on a K-State double-pass attempt.
The College Football Playoff selection committee certainly was tuning in to see whether a season-ending neck injury to quarterback Seth Russell would stifle the nation's top-scoring offense. While the Baylor defense was shaky, the committee members had to at least come away impressed with true freshman quarterback Jarrett Stidham, who shined in his first career start.
Player of the game: On a windy night in Manhattan, Stidham was sensational, completing 23 of 33 passes for 419 yards. He also threw three touchdowns and ran for another. Stidham flashed a cannon on several of his throws, including a 40-yard laser on a seam pass to K.D. Cannon late in the fourth quarter that gave the Bears a chance at a game-clinching field goal (which they missed). Stidham also showed tremendous poise in what turned out to be a tight contest on the road, surrendering no turnovers while taking three sacks. Given his inexperience, Stidham is sure to endure a few growing pains down the stretch. But he showed he has the arm, the athleticism and the poise to quarterback the Bears to a Big 12 championship -- and possibly, a playoff appearance.
Stat of the game: It didn't take long for K-State coach Bill Snyder's game plan to become rather obvious: Keep Stidham, wideout Corey Coleman and running back Shock Linwood on the Baylor sidelines for as long as possible. The ploy worked splendidly on the first possession, as K-State chewed up 9 minutes, 17 seconds on a run-heavy, 17-play touchdown drive. The strategy worked well in the second half, too, as K-State had the ball with a chance to tie the score at the end before tossing the game-ending interception to Burt. All told, the Wildcats nearly doubled Baylor in time of possession, 38 minutes to 22.
What the win means for Baylor: The Bears probably didn't win any selection committee members over with their performance. They won, which is the bottom line. But they'll have to play much better, particularly on the defensive side, next weekend in a clash against surging Oklahoma in Waco, Texas. The Bears gave up 258 rushing yards to K-State. No Power 5 offense has rushed for more yards the past three weeks than Oklahoma, which features a pair of dynamic rushers in Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon.
What the loss means for K-State: The Wildcats showed gumption in hanging in with Baylor through the fourth quarter. This was not remotely the same K-State team that Oklahoma obliterated 55-0 two weeks ago. At 3-5 after the loss, the Wildcats have work to do to get to bowl eligibility. But if they play like they did Thursday the rest of the season, they'll stand a good chance of getting to six wins and finishing a rebuilding season on a high note.